Whether you’ve been discharged from your bankruptcy (once or more than once) and have gone back to your old ways, or you’re considering bankruptcy for the first time because you’re drowning in debt, you’re not alone! But, you’ve got a problem. See how many of these questions you answer “yes” to:
Signs of Compulsive Debting
1. Being unclear about your financial situation. Not knowing account balances, monthly expenses, loan interest rates, fees, fines, or contractual obligations.
2. Frequently “borrowing” items such as books, pens, or small amounts of money from friends and others, and failing to return them.
3. Poor saving habits. Not planning for taxes, retirement or other not-recurring but predictable items, and then feeling surprised when they come due; a “live for today, don’t worry about tomorrow” attitude.”
4. Compulsive shopping: Being unable to pass up a “good deal”; making impulsive purchases; leaving price tags on clothes so they can be returned; not using items you’ve purchased.
5. Difficulty in meeting basic financial or personal obligations, and/or an inordinate sense of accomplishment when such obligations are met.
6. A different feeling when buying things on credit than when paying cash, a feeling of being in the club, of being accepted, of being grown up.
7. Living in chaos and drama around money: Using one credit card to pay another; bouncing checks; always having a financial crisis to contend with.
8. A tendency to live on the edge: Living paycheck to paycheck; taking risks with health and car insurance coverage; writing checks hoping money will appear to cover them.
9. Unwarranted inhibition and embarrassment in what should be a normal discussion of money.
10. Overworking or under-earning: Working extra hours to earn money to pay creditors; using time inefficiently; taking jobs below your skill and education level.
11. An unwillingness to care for and value yourself: Living in self-imposed deprivation; denying your basic needs in order to pay your creditors.
12. A feeling or hope that someone will take care of you if necessary, so that you won’t really get into serious financial trouble, that there will always be someone you can turn to.
There Is Free Help: Debtors Anonymous
The above checklist was taken from the website of “Debtors Anonymous.” Debtors Anonymous is a 12 step program much like Alcoholics Anonymous to help problem drinkers recover and become sober. Or Gamblers Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous and so many other 12 step programs.
Compulsive debting often goes undiagnosed and/or untreated. Based on some of the questions I’m getting by email, it’s obvious there are many people struggling with this seldom discussed – or even recognized – addiction. Left untreated, it has forced many people into bankruptcy and to live a very stressful life. Worse yet, without making changes after being discharged from bankruptcy and getting the proverbial “clean slate” it won’t be long before a person can fall back into old bad spending habits. It’s way to easy to get into trouble again. Sadly, that could lead to another bankruptcy, or at a minimum, falling behind on bills or just never having enough money, no matter how much your income is.
DA is worldwide. In Canada, there are quite a few DA meetings in British Columbia and Ontario, and to a lesser extent throughout the rest of Canada. You can see a list of Debtors Anonymous locations by clicking here (opens in a new window, please scroll down for the Canadian locations). If there is no meeting your city, you can start one! See the Debtors Anonymous website for more information. I’m offering this as resource to those who need it or could benefit from it.
Compulsive debting is a very real problem, often going undiagnosed or untreated. If you went through the questions above and think you may be a compulsive debtor, then take a look at these questions below, which go on a more personal level. These questions are also taken from the Debtors Anonymous website:
Most compulsive debtors will answer “yes” to at least eight of the following 15 questions.
1. Are your debts making your home life unhappy?
2. Does the pressure of your debts distract you from your daily work?
3. Are your debts affecting your reputation?
4. Do your debts cause you to think less of yourself?
5. Have you ever given false information in order to obtain credit?
6. Have you ever made unrealistic promises to your creditors?
7. Does the pressure of your debts make you careless of the welfare of your family?
8. Do you ever fear that your employer, family or friends will learn the extent of your total indebtedness?
9. When faced with a difficult financial situation, does the prospect of borrowing give you an inordinate feeling of relief?
10. Does the pressure of your debts cause you to have difficulty sleeping?
11. Has the pressure of your debts ever caused you to consider getting drunk?
12. Have you ever borrowed money without giving adequate consideration to the rate of interest you are required to pay?
13. Do you usually expect a negative response when you are subject to a credit investigation?
14. Have you ever developed a strict regimen for paying off your debts, only to break it under pressure?
15. Do you justify your debts by telling yourself that you are superior to the “other” people, and when you get your “break” you’ll be out of debt overnight?
Debtors Annonymous is free but they will gladly accept a donation – even if it’s just some spare change. If you’re not sure if DA is for you, why not see if there is a meeting in your city, or within a reasonable driving distance. Like most 12 step programs, you can start a new meeting in your area.
If your bankruptcy was discharged, but you find yourself slipping back to where you used to be financially, you owe it to yourself to check out Debtors Anonymous. And of course, if you have not filed for bankruptcy but find yourself struggling with some, or many of the issues described above, there’s no better time to check out DA. You might even be able to avoid going bankrupt.
Good luck, and have the best day ever!